Report Back: London Veolia Action

For photos: http://londonbds.org/2011/03/31/bds-day-of-action-veolia-hq/

Report and photos by Salim, Bruce and Tapash.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011 – In an action organised by West London PSC this afternoon in commemoration of Land Day, 27 protestors visited Veolia’s head office on Pentonville Road, near London’s King Cross along with a letter demanding that Veolia cease providing services to illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem.

The security operative at the reception desk angrily demanded that protestors cease taking photographs and leave the building. After explaining their presence, those present vowed to stay until the letter was accepted – despite threats to call the police if they did not leave. In fact, the police did arrive shortly afterward, but took no action aside from asking for more information about the campaign.

While waiting for a representative to come and accept the letter, protestors displayed photographs of Israeli atrocities, unfurled a banner, waved flags and sung chants such as “BIN, BIN, BIN Veolia!” and “FREE, FREE Palestine!” Flyers were also distributed to office workers entering and leaving explaining about Veolia’s complicity in Israeli violations of international law and war crimes. To further clarify Veolia’s business ethics, filled rubbish bags had BIN VEOLIA and RETURN TO SENDER labels attached to them were deposited in the reception area.

Protestors handed a letter to a Veolia spokesperson explaining and specifying why Veolia’s actions in aiding Israel’s occupation constitute grave breaches of humanitarian and international laws. At the same time a protestor gave the spokesperson an oral summary of the contents of the letter. The Veolia
spokesperson then tried to claim that Veolia’s role in the Jerusalem Light Rail project as well as the Tovlan landfill was minimal, and that Veolia did not run
‘Israeli Settler only’ bus services. He became very hostile to having his comments recorded – he did not want to go on camera with his responses- and acted aggressively towards someone who was recordings his explanations.

Protestors cited facts rebutting each of the spokesperson’s comments to show that Veolia was only telling half-truths at best and untruths at worst. As an example of the spokesperson’s defence of Veolia, he claimed that Veolia had offered to charge Palestinians reduced rates for Veolia taking their waste at the Tovlan landfill. It was pointed out to him that the key issue was that Tovlan landfill was taking waste from illegal Israeli settlements and dumping this on Palestinian land; offering a reduced rate for some Palestinians did not absolve Veolia from this.

Protestors left the Veolia spokesperson with the message that the campaign to highlight its activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank would continue and that local councils across the UK are being lobbied to exclude Veolia from contracts because of those activities. It is fair to say that the Veolia spokesperson did not look a happy as protestors left the building at the end of the protest without any police intervention.

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